How To Ask For The Raise You Want

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(Forbes article) Looking for a raise in 2015? Molly Fletcher has a unique understanding of what it takes to get more pay. As a former sports agent, she has represented clients including coaches Tom Izzo and Doc Rivers, sportscasters Ernie Johnson, Jr., John Smoltz and Joe Theismann and pro golfer Matt Kuchar.

It may be very possible to get what you want, but only if you use the right strategy, says Fletcher, who is now a speaker and author of the new book A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating. A recent Towers Watson survey showed that U.S. employers plan to give professional employees average raises of 3% next year, a little higher than the 2.9% for 2013 and 2014. “Despite the importance of pay when it comes to attracting and retaining employees companies are falling short in the delivery of their base pay and annual incentive programs,” as the global professional services company put it in its press release.

Use these approaches to get a bigger bump than average in 2015. If you’re a business owner, they can be just as useful in asking your clients to pay you more this year.

Take an objective look at where you stand. When you ask for what you want, you will fare better off if you truly are coming from a position of strength and can draw on the professional and social capital you’ve built in the workplace. “Ask yourself, “What are the social implications of this ask? Have I created enough leverage to walk away?” she suggests.

Analyze the pros and cons of asking. “I think like anything in life there are benefits and drawbacks,” she says. Making sure you have built a strong relationship with the gatekeeper you are approaching is a top consideration.”When we go in and ask for what we want, we hopefully will have found a tremendous connection to the person we’re working for,” says Fletcher. “We’ve given more than we’ve taken. We’ve given so much that what we’re asking for is fair.”

Even if you have given 150%, be prepared for the possibility that you will not get a raise. “If we don’t get what we want there’ s message: Maybe I can’t reach my full potential in this environment, and it’s time for me to move on,” says Fletcher.

Think through what you will do if that happens, she advises.

“Sometimes we need to recognize what walking away looks like,” she adds. “Are we prepared to take that risk? It’s tough to do.”

In the case of women, who may face social consequences men don’t for asking, she does not advocate waiting for the system to recognize you in the way that Microsoft MSFT +1.91% Chief Executive Satya Nadella suggested earlier this month before apologizing. “For us to create change we have to challenge these assumptions,” says Fletcher. “The only way to do that is by asking for what we want.”

Get inside the mind of your boss. ”We want to understand what the other side values, what is important to them,” says Fletcher. “The more we can understand what the other side values, the more we can begin to determine if we’ve done that and if there’s more we need to do. It’s about having clarity about what is important to the other side.”

Keep it genuine. Is there a boilerplate line you can use to ask for a raise? She says there really isn’t one, because your approach needs to be authentic to you. “Hopefully we can find ways to do it in an authentic way–a way that is curious and not defensive, where we are well prepared for the discussion,” she says.

Consider the consequences of being passive. There can be a penalty for waiting for your boss to decide you’re worthy of a raise. “When we hire people and they don’t ask us for raises we sort of like it,” she says. “We maybe don’t have to have that difficult conversation and we pay them less than we should or could. Then we wonder: Does this individual believe in themselves and understand how valuable they could be?” …

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